Career Success Lessons from Derek Jeter

A little story befor we get to today’s career advice

I grew up in Pittsburgh.  One of my most cherished sports memories is Yoga Berra with his back to the infield watching Bill Mazeroski’s home run clear the left field wall in old Forbes Field, winning the 1960 World Series for the Pirates.  This was especially sweet for me as I was (and am) a Pirates fan, and a Yankee hater in those days.  They won too much for my taste.

I often joke with my baseball fan friends that I can’t pay attention to a baseball game until after Labor Day.  I think the season is too long and the playoffs too short.  Baseball is not my favorite sport, but I do follow it some.  Growing up in Pittsburgh I’m a National League guy.  I rooted for the Mets the entire time I lived in New York – a pretty futile thing to do except for that one glorious season in 1986.

Even though I often got company seats right behind home plate in the old Yankee Stadium, I treated those trips to the ballpark more as an outing to enjoy the summer evening, drink a few beers and eat some peanuts.  I finally got a little interested in the Yankees because Don Nelson a close friend is a diehard Yankee fan.

I’ve watched Derek Jeter play shortstop for the Yankees ever since he broke into the big leagues.  He is 37 this year and his skills are declining.  There are some fans in New York who think he should be traded.  I’ve read some articles that say he is a below average defensive shortstop.  That may be true, but I think he brings an intangible to his game that helps elevate all of the players around him.

Until Saturday, the most vivid image I have of Jeter came in the 2011 American League Division Series on October 13, 2001.  Jeter made what I think is the most unbelievable play in baseball history.  He chased down an errant throw and flipped the ball backhanded to the catcher who tagged out a runner trying to score.  He was way out of his position, but he was in the right place at the right time.

I didn’t see Saturday’s game, but I read about it in the New York Times.  Coming into the game, Jeter need two hits to  get to the 3,000 hit milestone, something only 27 other players in the history of major league baseball had even done – and they’ve been playing since the 1890’s.  And no Yankee has ever had 3,000 hits – not Mickey Mantle, not Joe Dimaggio, not even Babe Ruth.

On Saturday, Jeter got a hit the first time he was up.  When he came up the second time, he needed one more hit to reach 3,000.  He got it in spectacular fashion.  He hit a home run.  That’s doing it with style!  But he wasn’t finished.  He got three more hits to finish five for five.  His last hit drove in the run that won the game for the Yankees.

After the game he said he was happy to get his 3,000 hit but, “It would have been really, really awkward to be out there doing interviews and waving to the crowd if we would have lost.  If we didn’t win, it definitely would have put a damper on things.”

And that’s the career success point for today. While it’s great to be an individual achiever, truly successful people put their team’s – or their company’s success – before their own.  Derek Jeter has exemplified this type of attitude from his earliest days as a major leaguer.

Tweet 98 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Don’t worry about getting credit for doing the job.  Worry about getting the job done well – accurately and on time.”  That statement sums up Derek Jeter’s career.  Every day he goes out and does his best on the baseball field, caring more aobut winning than individual statistics.  For that, he is likely to end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Even though baseball is a game in which players are often evaluated by individual statistics, it’s still a team sport.  Wins and losses are the ultimate evaluation of success.  Derek Jeter knows this.  On a day he went five for five, got his 3,000 hit – a home run – and had the winning RBI he spoke not only about being glad to reach the 3,000 hit milestone, but about winning the game.

If you go to work every day and do your best and focus on the long term goals of your organization, you’ll be on your way to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.  Do your job.  Do it well.  Don’t worry about who gets credit.

It’s been my experience that people in positions of authority can identify good work when they see it; and that they can differentiate the work of the people who report to them.  If you consistently produce high-quality work and results, you will get your due.

Take it from this career success coach.  Focus on getting the job done – well and on time—and you will get the recognition due you in the long run.  And creating life and career success is a long run – a marathon, not a sprint.  As the old saying goes, “The cream rises to the top.”

Delivering high-quality work — consistently and in the long run — will help you do your part in making your company a success.  It will also get you noticed and help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.  Stay focused on your work, get creative with your ideas.  Make sure you cross all of your t’s and dot all of your i’s and you’ll succeed.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people deliver high-quality work, consistently and over the long run.  On Saturday, Derek Jeter exemplified this.  He got his 3,000 hit as a major leaguer and had the game winning RBI.  More important, while he was happy to reach the 3,000 milestone, he was even happier to have won the game.  Be like Jeter.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 98 in Success Tweets.  “Don’t worry about getting credit for doing the job.  Worry about getting the job done well – accurately and on time.”  Leaders recognize the output of the people who work for them.  That’s why it’s important to focus on doing a good job on every job – no matter how small.  You’ll be building your brand and portfolio in your manager’s mind.  In the long run, producing consistently high-quality work is the best way to get the recognition and life and career success due you.

That’s the career advice I took from reading about Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.


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